Privacy is the precursor to solid security. The less information you disclose, the fewer points of access predators/collectors have to breach your personal or business life. Online vulnerabilities discreetly display your personal information and habits, as well as the strategic plans, intellectual property and/or proprietary information of the corporations you represent.
While surfing, you are invaded by organizations and businesses that crawl the cyberspace collecting information from public records (birth certificates, marriage and divorce certificates, mortgages, registration of companies, vehicles, etc.). These businesses, about 22 or more, profit from collecting, packaging and disclosing your personal information without your permission. In cyberspace, privacy can be compromised in three ways:
1) Voluntarily when you disclosed your information;
2) Involuntarily and without your knowledge when companies compile publicly available and personal information and offer that in one package to anyone with access to online services;
3) Voluntarily when you use an unprotected Internet browser
How do I prevent companies from collecting my information?
Habits are difficult to break. Right now, you probably use one browser – that must change. Diversify how and what you surf into two different browsers. We recommend two Internet browsers, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. Both browsers with proper settings can greatly reduce your signature on the Internet. Here’s how:
• Use Google Chrome to access sites that require usernames and passwords, such as your personal or work email platform, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
• Use Mozilla Firefox for recreational/research surfing. Use Firefox to surf topics of interests, read competitor websites, news, blogs of interest, and so on. Mozilla Firefox has features to keep intruders from collecting and selling your Internet surfing habits and data.
Go to Settings and click on Show Advanced Settings. Then, ensure that you have a check mark on the following settings:
Under Content Setting
1) Keep local data only until you quit your browser
2) Block third-party cookies and site data
3) Block third-party cookies and site data
4) Do not allow any site to track your physical location
5) Do not allow any site to download multiple files automatically
In the Privacy Tab
1) Enable phishing and malware protection
2) Send a “Do not Track” request with your browsing traffic
Passwords and forms
Make sure that you are NOT enabling the saving and remembering of passwords.
1) Check “ask where to save each file before downloading”
Go to ToolsOptions in the PC or Preferences in Mac.
1) Under the General tab, select Use Blank as Homepage and ensure that there isn’t a url listed in the field
2) Place a check mark in “Always ask me where to save files”
3) Go to Privacy tab, and place a check mark on “tell websites I do not want to be tracked,” select the option “Never remember history,” and on the Location Bar, select either nothing or Bookmarks.
4) Go to the Security tab, and place a check mark on “Warm me when sites try to install add-ins,” “Block reported attack sites,” and “Block reported web forgeries.”
5) DO NOT ask your browser to remember passwords or use a master password
6) Go to ToolsAdd-ons. A new window pops up. Go to the Get Add-ons and in the search field type the following add-ons, and follow the prompts for installation: AdBlock Plus; Ghostery; NoScript; and DoNotTrackPlus.
Keeping your surfing private requires a combination of behavior and technology. The steps you performed above are just the tip of the iceberg of the process needed to guard your privacy and security.
Cecilia Acostia, Strategic Intelligence Officer at Escape the Wolf, LLC, is an expert in open source information collection, cybercrime and social media collection and analysis.